Like Ford in the US, Daimler makes vehicles with different kinds of powertrains in one plant. Over in Hambach, France, around 750 Daimler elves workers put out all the Smart Fortwos in the world, over 1.4 million and counting. Daimler now also makes the Fortwo Electric Drive there, the first series production EV made in Europe. Daimler invested over 200 million euros to expand the plant for the EV model and future products. So far, over 1,000 electric Smarts have been built and Smart head Annette Winkler said that "production is now being continuously ramped up to meet the high customer demand worldwide."

It's not that surprising that people want this EV, since Daimler is making sure the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will be crazy affordable (for an electric vehicle) when it goes on sale. The car will start at just $25,000 before any federal tax credits when it comes to the US in the spring, and it is available at a low cost with a battery lease in Europe (details below). We like this tiny EV – as you can read here, it's a big improvement over the previous generation – and if you can live with the size limitations, it's a good way to get your EV toes wet.
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smart plant Hambach: insight into the first series production of an electric vehicle in Europe
Hambach, France, Dec 11, 2012
  • Models with electric drive und combustion engines series produced on one production line for the first time
  • Investment of more than 200 million Euro in the future of the plant
  • Dr Annette Winkler: "Our plant "smartville" already set milestones in innovative, environmentally friendly production technology at its foundation. We at smart are all very proud that our great team in Hambach now also is producing the first electric series car in Europe."
Hambach, France - With the production of the smart electric drive in the French town of Hambach, smart is presenting the series production of an electric vehicle in Europe for the first time.

In her speech, Dr Annette Winkler, Head of smart, emphasised the importance of the Hambach plant: "Our plant "smartville" already set milestones in innovative, environmentally friendly production technology at its foundation. We at smart are all very proud that our great team in Hambach now also is producing the first electric series car in Europe." In view of the further ramp-up of the new smart fortwo electric drive Annette Winkler said: "With every electric smart coming from Hambach we offer affordable electric mobility for everyone. More than 1.000 emission-free smarts have already left the plant. The production is now being continuously ramped up to meet the high customer demand worldwide."

Dr Joachim Betker, Head of the smart plant in Hambach, explained: "The smart Hambach plant has the ideal prerequisites for perfectly integrated production of models with electric drive and combustion engines. The smart vehicle concept was designed for different drive types right from the start – this is why the whole site was planned to allow configurations such as an electric drive to be additionally realised with relatively low expenditure. The whole team at the Hambach site can be proud that they have pioneered the first series production of an electric vehicle in Europe."

About the new smart fortwo electric drive

Available as a coupé or a cabrio with extensive standard equipment based on the passion equipment line – in future, smart customers can enjoy even more fun at the wheel of an attractively priced vehicle that has the familiar compact dimensions. The most important feature distinguishing it from its siblings with conventional engines is the fact that it does not produce any emissions at all whilst driving.

With its 55 kW electric motor the smart fortwo electric drive accelerates from 0 - 60 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and with a maximum speed of 125 km/h driving pleasure is also guaranteed on urban motorways. The 17.6 kWh lithium-ion battery enables the urban two-seater to travel approximately 145 kilometres in city traffic without producing any local emissions. As these components come from joint ventures with the German companies Bosch (EM-motive) and Evonik (Deutsche ACCUmotive) and the vehicle is built in the Hambach plant in France, the new smart fortwo electric drive is the first truly European electric car.

A new sales model makes opting into electric mobility particularly attractive: the sale&care model offers customers an opportunity to buy, finance or lease the vehicle at an attractive price and to rent the battery for a monthly fee. It is also possible to buy, finance or lease the vehicle including the battery.

Prices in Germany (incl. 19% VAT):

sale&care
Coupé
Cabrio
smart fortwo electric drive
€ 18,910.00
€ 22,000.00
Battery rental
€ 65.00 per moth
€ 65.00 per month
Vehicle including battery
Coupé
Cabrio
smart fortwo electric drive
€ 23,680.00
€ 26,770.00

The first vehicles have already been delivered to customers in Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal. All further markets – more than 30 in total – will follow successively.

Investments secure the future of the Hambach plant

Considerable investments of more than 200 million Euro in the expansion and modification of the plant plus preparatory measures for the successor series to the current smart secure the future of the plant. The largest individual project with a total investment of more than 50 million Euro is the new painting plant where an environmentally-friendly liquid painting process that meets the current Daimler Group standard will replace the present powder coating process. This plant will greatly expand the variety of paint colours that can be realised, which means that in future smart customers will also be able to choose the colour of the tridion safety cell of their smart from all available paint finishes.

A success story: the smart plant in Hambach

The smart plant in Hambach was inaugurated in 1997 and has produced the smart fortwo since 1998 – in its second generation since 2007. In 2011 more than 103,000 vehicles rolled off the production line. Some 1475 employees work at the site, around 750 in the plant itself and a further 725 at the seven system partners who are also based there. The one millionth smart fortwo was built in September 2008, coinciding with the tenth birthday of the brand. To date more than 1.4 million vehicles have left the plant.

The plant in Lorraine has always stood for an innovative production concept. The assembly line is shaped like a "plus" symbol to enable it to meet assembly and logistics requirements optimally, thus ensuring highly efficient production processes. This principle enables system partners and suppliers to deliver modules right to the assembly line. In this way, transport and logistics are reduced to a minimum – an advantage not least in ecological terms. The design of the vehicles and the state-of-the-art energy concept also ensure that the smart brand's ecological product responsibility is translated into the production. For instance, smartville has its own gas-fuelled heat and power plant which supplies the site with heat and covers around 25 per cent of its electricity requirements. Waste water is treated directly on site in smart's own treatment plant with a membrane filter system. The quality of the treated water is better than the natural bodies of water into which it is discharged.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wouldn't say it's crazy affordable but certainly getting closer to reasonable. The base Smart is 12500$ vs 25 for the EV version. If we compare to that Nissan, the Versa sedan is 12000 and Nissan Leaf is 35. And the tax incentive then compensates for the remaining overpricing. It might sell halfway decent in Kuhlifornia. Europe too.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        You need to factor in the gasoline savings. When you are paying ~$9/gallon as they do in Europe, those gasoline costs add up quick. Driving on electricity is much cheaper . . . even with Europe's inflated electricity costs.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Spec
          Europe is so varied that it is difficult to generalise. It is s little like talking about 'North America' then applying what is true of Mexico to Canada. Overnight electric rates in France with their surplus nuclear power is cheap, around $0.10 kwh, and fairly reasonable in the UK too. I am not sure about rates in many of the host of other countries. Germany and Denmark are expensive.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        No incentives in Germany.
      mazdamattyp5
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've got a place holder deposit in at my local mercedes dealer and I'm wearing out Daimler corporate on a weekly basis for info. I will own one of these on day 1. Couldn't be more excited.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maybe someone finally figured out how to tap the low-cost EV commuter vehicle market? Well, I think we need to see how sales go.
        KenZ
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        It may sell very well in Europe... or may not, but the lease option for the battery in Europe is smart. Europeans (I go there a lot, but am not one) seem to be much more in tune/accepting of mini/micro cars, but also much more price sensitive. Those two factors will battle it out for this vehicle's acceptance there.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @KenZ
          Daimler reckon the lease option will be favoured by businesses. At the price for the batteries as against lease and with the good job that it looks as though they have done on the durability I can't see why an individual would want to lease the battery unless they are leasing the whole car, but the calculations may be different for businesses.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @KenZ
          I suspect sales in the USA will not be so good. The regular Smart car did not sell so well and doubt this one will do better. But there probably are some people that want a cheap EV who were not drawn to the weird-looking and limited-range Mitsubishi-i.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @KenZ
          @Spec: There is nothing wrong with different preferences as the driving and more particularly the parking conditions are so different. In London or Paris, and indeed in many of the historic cities of Europe, a car as easy to park as this is a boon. With no serious problems about parking a bigger car in almost anywhere in the US apart from New York, why would people compromise so heavily on accomodation? As I remarked above there are a lot more urban highways in the States anyway, which pushes high speed performance more.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Is the Smart Electric Drive really the first series production EV made in Europe? The Kangoo Z.E. has been in production for over a year. Think City production started in 2008. Don't forget the PSA Peugeot Citroen electric Berlingo and Partner vans.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Days Ago
        Peugeot produced 10,000 106EV's over 10 years. This is Smart marketing speak, where they have made up what constitutes series production to suit their case.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      Perhaps but Norway is EV crazy. And south of Europe like small cars.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      They look to have hit the sweet spot here. The chief gripe with the petrol version is the awful gearbox. No gears solves that pretty well. They also look to have done a bang-up job on the battery pack and cooling. The lease version gets replaced if it drops below 80%, and it is identical to the one that they sell. If you can live with the ~50 miles of range it will gradually degrade to for what is after all most definitely a city car, then I would be very surprised if the battery does not last as long as the car. I would still be cautious about buying in Arizona, but I am a belt and braces guy and any battery has a terrible time in those temperatures, but even there it is a good bet to lease, and I doubt you will have troubles with capacity dropping far enough over the lease period to cause problems. Its not too far from being the ultimate city run around, IMO, although if they price it right the VW E-UP will give 4 seats (kind of, although not maybe by US standards)
      pmpjunkie01
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice to see that Daimler is getting a growing fleet of EVs out to consumers to collect some data and production experience. They will need it when Tesla starts taking the gravy off of their Mercedes lineup.
      sirvixisvexed
      • 2 Years Ago
      When the demand is to be high, words like prodution often follow.
      Solar Sean
      • 1 Year Ago
      There's a cool sweepstakes going on where you can win a 3-year Electric Drive lease and a 1.5 kW home solar power system to charge it with. http://rgs.me/WUhdIU
      Peter Muller
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hey all, I had a chance to drive the production model for an afternoon here in Brussels. They let me have the convertible version.. Amazing little car, works perfectly albeit a bit tough on the butt, as the suspension is really hard. Its on my "replacement for the Prius when the lease it up" list. The price is right, the interior is clean and complete and the size is right for my 80km commute. They got this one right.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter Muller
        He said, 'Hard' and 'Rough on the Butt'
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Peter Muller
        The Zoe should have good suspension, being French. Unfortunately it uses the same battery chemistry and design as the Leaf, which has nowhere near the durability that of the Smart is likely to have.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I forgot for a moment. The battery durability shouldn't matter too much to Zoe customers, as the battery is lease only. Renault guarantee 75% capacity, so as long as that works for you you should be good to go. Personally I would just least both battery and car for the same length of time rather than buy one and lease the other, as that would be far less messing around.
      Warren
      • 2 Years Ago
      If nothing else comes down the line, in the next year, I may have to get one. I figure if I pull out the AC, and electric power steering (neither of which I have any earthly use for) and put on full moon wheel covers, and rear fender skirts, I can match the Leaf's range.
        Dave R
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Warren
        No need to pull out the AC or power steering - I doubt those affect range much unless you are using them. But some aero improvements will easily improve range since aero is severely lacking on the car. Or you can simply drive slower. Keep the speed to 20-25 mph and you can probably 200 miles on a charge.
          EZEE
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Dave R
          'No need to affect range much unless you use them' LOL
          DaveMart
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Dave R
          Better aero is unlikely to much affect the Smart in real world use, as it is not usually travelling fast enough, especially in Europe with fewer city highways, for it to matter very much. If you spend 80% plus of your time travelling at 30 mph or so, then increasing the efficiency mainly on the other 20%, to be very generous, is not going to make much odds.
          Warren
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dave R
          Dave R, Actually, it is very hilly here, and weight has a huge effect on range. I already have a vehicle that goes 100 miles easily at 20-25 mph average...my human/elctric hybrid recumbent...over 7K miles so far.
      Marcuslime
      • 2 Years Ago
      If this or the Zoe ever come to Australia they will blow all the other EV sales out of the water. Australians like small funky cars not blobs of metal like the leaf.
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